Wednesday, December 12, 2012

[#30] EXO-K - "History"

From: "MAMA"
Format: EP
Released: April
Territory: South Korea
Previous Best of Appearances: First Appearance

The presence of two things would've made EXO's debut much better for me -- "History" as their proper, promoted, debut single is one of them.

"History" on it's own, without delivery, is really a strong song. It's a song that's strong enough to not only carry itself, but carry whoever delivers it, and that's very important in a debut single. Of course rookie acts who can carry songs themselves are much, much, more preferred, but seeing how EXO carried "MAMA", they needed all the help they could get at that point.

As far as debuts go, the end justifies the means -- whoever's doing the carrying, whether it be the song, the delivery, or both at the same time, that debut needs to be carried, and it needs to be carried well. If it's epic then it's epic, if it's not then it's not -- whatever the case, it needs to be solid and it needs to make the group look good. These foundations will haunt a group forever, it's not something you can just take lightly.

"History" is very tight as far as production and arrangement go -- whatever needed to be done was done well. The cut-up lines of the verses fused with the very sure, very stiff instrumental give a sense of anxiety and tension that translates into urgency. Then when you get to the chorus, choice of specific notes and harmonies at the chorus gave off the impression of a tough kind of grace, something I think is really important in new boy bands. They need to show that no matter how tough or manly they're supposed to be, there's a sense of grace, a sense of fluidity to their delivery.

There's a reason why I chose the EXO-K version and not the EXO-M version of "History", it wasn't just a random decision. Part of the tough exterior of the song, and manages to work well with the fluidity of the chorus, is also due to the language. Korean as a language is a lot stiffer than Mandarin which is fluid, and Japanese, which by experience is a very small, cute language. And it's that stiffness in the language that drives home the confidence of the song.

"History" is one of those songs that would've been a really, really good debut single because even if it's tough and confident, there's also a sense of desperation in it. Rather than being like "why aren't you listening to me", it's the type that's more "pleeeeeeeeeeeease listen to me". And at the same time, it's a genuinely pretty song.

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